APCO Statement on FCC Chairman Wheeler’s Call for Funding to Modernize the Nation’s 9-1-1 System
Alexandria, VA – Today, in an Op-Ed in The New York Times, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler called on Congress to provide funding assistance to state and local government 9-1-1 authorities for the transition to “Next Generation 9-1-1” technology. As Chairman Wheeler rightly pointed out, the nation’s 9-1-1 system is in dire need of upgrading to technology that will provide the features necessary to best ensure the safety and security of the general public and emergency responders.
The transition to Next Generation 9-1-1 will require sufficient funding for upgraded networks connecting the public to 9-1-1 centers, the advanced equipment necessary at 9-1-1 centers (such as improved computer aided dispatch and logging systems), and increased staffing required to process the new forms of communication that will be made possible – such as text, photos, videos, medical data, environmental hazard sensors, etc. These are the fundamental prerequisites to holistically transitioning today’s 9-1-1 system. There are no quick fixes, and no magic “apps.”
Federal funding is critical to accelerate the transition to Next Generation 9-1-1. It must provide the right incentives to implement and sustain secure, efficient, competitive, non-proprietary solutions while preserving local autonomy. Additionally, the transition must be accomplished in a manner that fully complements the implementation of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) nationwide public safety broadband network, which will deliver similar technological advances into the hands of first responders. The 9-1-1 centers of the future will bring together the two halves of emergency response, serving as a nerve center for the public with Next Generation 9-1-1 as well as first responders through FirstNet.
APCO members – exceeding 25,000 across the country – and other public safety communications professionals working in or managing 9-1-1 centers are the first lifeline to citizens in need of emergency assistance. They also serve to inform and protect the police, fire, and EMS responders in the field for incidents ranging from the most local of emergencies to major disasters. These professionals perform admirable work each and every day, and they deserve to have the best and most effective tools at their disposal.
“APCO welcomes Chairman Wheeler’s comments in calling attention to the funding needs of 9-1-1 centers,” said APCO President Brent Lee. Mr. Lee added, “quick and comprehensive Congressional action is necessary to finally ensure that this most fundamental portion of the nation’s emergency response infrastructure is poised to keep our citizens and country as safe as possible.”
APCO International® (www.apcointl.org)
APCO International is the world’s oldest and largest organization of public safety communications professionals and supports the largest U.S. membership base of any public safety association. It serves the needs of public safety communications practitioners worldwide – and the welfare of the general public as a whole – by providing complete expertise, professional development, technical assistance, advocacy and outreach.